Five YA Novels that Influenced Me When I was a Teen

A young-adult-lit friend sent me a link to author Rachel Carter’s post at Nerdy Book Club on the five young adult (YA) books that were important to her, and why, as a teen.

Since we’ve been discussing this all summer as part of the Summer of Shelf Discovery Readalong (discussing? We’ve been SOAKING in it, Madge.), I thought I’d post my five since my memory has been helpfully jogged by this summer’s YA reading bender.

1. Down a Dark Hall by Lois Duncan. It was creepy and compelling and taught me who Emily Bronte was. Kind of a tie here with Summer of Fear. Buyer beware: several of the Duncan books have been updated with clumsy references to modern tech, which is a shame, because I really like the new covers. Seek out previous editions.

2. Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson. It perfectly captured my older-sister angst.

3. The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare. Spoiled girl gets her comeuppance but finds love in the end. Yay!

4. A Wrinkle in Time by Margaret L’Engle. It was the first YA book I remember reading, loving, and re-reading. It helped make me a reader.

5. Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey. My cousin lent this to me when I was in seventh grade. A girl and her very own telepathic dragon—what could be better than that? Alas, when I re-read it, I found the suck fairy had gotten to it.

What would you pick as your five? You can post on this and link back, or leave in comments.

9 Responses to “Five YA Novels that Influenced Me When I was a Teen”

  1. Miss T Says:

    1. Harriet the Spy

    2. Anything Nancy Drew

    3. Susan, by Barbara C. Smucker

    4. The Phantom Tollbooth

    5. Any horror collection or novel I could get my hands on

  2. girldetective Says:

    Miss T, I was also a fan of the Girl Detectives, especially Trixie Belden. Hence the name of the blog. I’m not familiar with Susan, and I didn’t read Phantom Tollbooth till I was an adult (then felt sad I’d missed it till then.) I’m off to look up Susan by Smucker.

  3. Kate Says:

    You know, Rebecca Skloot (of HeLa book fame) just asked this question on twitter. She’s writing a children’s version of Henrietta Lacks and needed to put together a list of comparable reading level books.

    My problem with this question is that my reading level was always so screwy. I can never remember what I read when. A Wrinkle in Time, though, remains at the very top of the list.

  4. carolyn Says:

    These are the books I was most pleased to find when clearing out stuff from my parents’ new house–I remembered very specific things from each of them–but I think they were all pre-YA for me, more K-6…
    A Summer to Die by Lois Lowry
    Victoria by Barbara Brooks Wallace
    The Trouble with Thirteen by Betty Miles
    Forever by Judy Bloom
    Sarah and Katie by Dori White

    And of course I was very happy to bring home all my L’Engle, Narnia, and Finn Family Moomintroll books!

    My mom and I had to buy new copies of all the Pern books when I moved away so we could each have our own copies, I still love those to pieces (just reread the first six in the past few weeks!). I agree that Lessa isn’t a great role model, but that’s not what I read those for! ;)

    Elizabeth A. Lynn’s Chronicles of Tornor is my all-time favorite sci fi trilogy and I read those in high school although when I read them now they are definitely adult books!

    Another HS favorite was The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin. All my LeGuin books are very well-creased even though I haven’t read them in years.

  5. carolyn Says:

    All my Trixie Belden / Nancy Drew / Hardy Boys reading was earlier on. Also I read all my mom’s Bobbsey Twin books / Cherry Ames (Oh I still love Cherry Ames; I bought my own copies from ebay a few years ago b/c my mom hates letting hers out of the house!) and Elsie Dinsmore. Those are all from the 50s I believe!

  6. girldetective Says:

    Carolyn, i’m off to look up victoria and Sarah and Katie–how is it my friends fave books I haven’t even heard of? CRAZY.

  7. girldetective Says:

    Carolyn, I have a post coming up on the current ridiculousness of classification in the children’s sections. When I am queen, it will all change.

  8. Traci Says:

    1) Nancy Drew (early reading)
    2) Forever J. Bloom
    3) I know What you did last summer
    4) various VC Andrews
    5) various S. King

    If I may add a 6th, The Hobbit trilogy

  9. girldetective Says:

    Traci, we book geeks can rarely limit ourselves. Notice how I added Summer of Fear to Down a Dark Hall? Should’ve probably just said: the collected oeuvre of Lois Duncan.